Before obtaining a CDL, truck drivers must meet all the basic federal and state requirements. One of the requirements is passing a Department of Transportation (DOT) physical. The DOT physical is a health exam mandated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for all commercial motor vehicle operators. A DOT physical helps determine if drivers are physically, mentally and emotionally fit to operate a commercial motor vehicle. Before a truck driver takes the DOT physical exam, there are several health requirements they need to be aware of.
A DOT physical is a way to determine a driver’s physical ability to operate a commercial motor vehicle. During the physical, the examiner will check the driver’s current health status and medical history.
Do I Need a DOT Physical
You must pass a DOT physical if you:
- Operate a motor vehicle for interstate commerce with a gross vehicle weight (GVW), gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), gross combination weight (GCW), or gross combination weight rating (GCWR)of 10,001 lbs or more.
- Operate a motor vehicle designed to carry more than 15 passengers.
- Transport hazardous materials that require you vehicle to be placarded
- Are paid to operate a motor vehicle designed to carry more than 8 people
How Often is a DOT Physical Required
After obtaining a CDL, drivers must take the DOT physical exam every two years. Drivers may need to take the exam more often if they have a health condition, such as blood pressure, that needs monitoring. Once you pass the DOT physical, the examiner will grant you a certificate. You will then need to turn your certificate into your employer.
What to Expect During a DOT Physical
During a DOT physical, a certified medical examiner will look at your current health status. They will also examine your medical history and perform physical examination. Below are the health requirements a truck driver must have to pass a DOT physical exam.
Drivers must have at least 20/40 acuity in each eye. They are also required to have at least 70” peripheral in the horizontal meridian.
Drivers must be able to perceive a forced whisper voice in one ear, at not less than five feet or without the use of a hearing aid. If the driver fails the hearing test, the medical examiner will refer the driver to have an audiometry test.
The medical examiner will check the driver’s blood pressure and pulse. A driver with a blood pressure (BP) of 140/90 will receive a certificate for 2 years. A driver with a BP of 140-159/90-99 will receive a certificate for 1 year. If a driver has a BP of 160-179/100-109, they will receive a one time certificate for 3 months. If a driver has BP of 180/110, they will be disqualified.
A urinalysis test looks for indications of underlying medical conditions.
The physical exam covers the following:
- General appearance
- Lungs and chest
- Abdomen and Viscera
- Mouth and throat
Where Can I Get the DOT Physical Done?
The National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners allows drivers to search for an examiner located in or near your city. You can also check with your primary care doctor to see if they are qualified.
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